whoa nellie!

… fight on … to victory … fight on! …

I’m not exactly from around these parts, but in the past eight years or so, I’ve become a big fan of college football. I didn’t go to college in the U.S. so I don’t have a specific team that I have an undying allegiance to. That said, I get to watch and enjoy a lot of games for the simple pleasure of watching the game. You should also know that while I love college football, Sunday’s version bores me. The NFL is too hyped, too long, has too many morons playing it, and seemingly more morons calling and “analyzing” it.

Tonight, I’m in the midst of watching the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii are playing in their first ever BCS bowl game, and not doing all that well against Georgia. The BCS games, in theory, should be the best that college football has to offer. Sometimes, the games don’t turn out that way, but my pain tonight isn’t with the game itself.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, FOX bought the rights to broadcast four of the BCS bowl games each year. These are the only college football games they will show each year. Yes, the FOX Sports regional channels do cover college football, but not the broadcast FOX network. They do, however, broadcast NFL games each week during the season, and it is from that experience that they approach the college games.

College football is about heart. It’s about passion. It’s about the pageantry that goes along with being a student or alumnus, the bands, fight songs, history. It’s about never knowing what might happen next, trick plays, thrilling overtimes that don’t end at the first field goal at the end of the first drive. It’s about fun. Sure, there is a high quotient of frat boys and sorority girls, but that’s offset by the low number of thugs and morons who seemingly attach themselves to the NFL.

FOX doesn’t seem to understand any of this. Instead, we get rehashed graphics, animations and interstitials on screen, and the same old military-inspired soundtrack. Where ESPN and ABC have (with a few exceptions) knowledgeable, relevant and capable analysts and callers, FOX have rolled out Jimmy Johnson and (a shadow of) Fran Tarkenton to provide pre-game analysis. And why is it that almost all FOX play-by-play callers sound like Joe Buck? Look, the camera work and overall production are great, the HD pictures look fantastic (NBC has the worst HD picture, by far), but those are about the only redeeming qualities. Oh, and Chris Myers as the sideline reporter is better than a lot of the token female sideline reporters that ESPN uses. But where are the fight songs? Why can’t we hear the bands beyond a slight muffle in the background? I also kind of miss the cheesy ads placed by the participating colleges — you know, “most of us are going to go pro in something other than sports” and the like.

The Capital One Bowl was the best game played today. The Rose Bowl was a blowout, but it’s always good to see USC win big there. ESPN and ABC (yes, I know, basically the same people) did a fantastic job covering the lead-up and games. They understand college football and present it in the right manner. The College Gameday show, while a somewhat tedious experience with Lee Corso in his element, is a good example of the passion people have for this game. Honestly, the only thing that could make the FOX coverage worse is if they used Petros Papadakis as the in-game analyst.

Please, when the contract is over, Mr Murdoch, please don’t renew it. Let ABC and ESPN do what they do best. And Mr Disney, if you can, please talk Keith Jackson into bringing back “the voice” of college football.

Whoa Nellie, that would be good!

p.s. College football doesn’t belong in domes either.